Friday, November 20, 2015

Midweek Roundup: "I Want to Make Another Tiny Batch"

Photo by Kristina
Eats N Drinks

The star of these little cookies was definitely the praline brittle.  Even though it disappeared into powder, which eventually disappeared into the cookies, the Alpha Bakers were quite taken with it.  Another advantage to the praline was that it required you to skin the hazelnuts, and skinning the hazelnuts is a "way to pass the time."  (Not that there aren't better ways to pass the time).  This small batch of cookies was the final installment of the prize that Kristina's friend Gilad won (The Treat-a-Month Prize).  Gilad got 30 cookies; Kristina and Jay got one, carefully divided between them.  Now you understand why she wants to make another batch.

I think that Kim will also make another batch, if only to satisfy herself that she actually did make the cookies in the correct way.  It was fascinating to me that Kim--our renowned cookie maven--doubted herself.  Were the hazelnuts not dried enough?  Didn't I let the caramel cool sufficiently?  Did I over-process the nuts?  Why aren't the cookies crunchier?  Not that she didn't like them--she did (a lot)--just that she wasn't sure they were up to Rose's standards.  (Those standards are admittedly high, but would we want it any other way?)

When I started reading Jenn's blog, I got very worried.  She said that hazelnuts are her least favorite nuts and she didn't think she would like these.  (Remember, Jenn is the same go-getter who made molasses cakes and cookies even though she doesn't like molasses--and didn't like the cakes and cookies either).  But these hazelnut cookies?  "Sooo good!"  They taste like "yummy butter crunchy sweet stuff."  You can't do much better than that.  And she loved learning the technique about removing the skins and then roasting the nuts.  All in all, so happy that she had to find takers for some of her cookies so she didn't eat them all herself.

I guess I can't speak for everyone, but Catherine certainly made me feel jealous with her talk of finding blanched hazelnuts.  No boiling!  No suspicious-looking dark red water!  No tedious peeling!  And, although Catherine doesn't really care for baking biscuits, unless they're a part of Christmas, she does enjoy eating them, and she thought these were quite good.  In fact, she might even make them as Christmas biscuits, carefully dipped in chocolate, of course.

Faithy also could only find skinned hazelnuts.  Who is the person whose job it is to determine what people can have hazelnuts with skins and what people can have only naked ones.  And why did they decide that people who live in Darwin and in Singapore can't handle the sight of skins?  Just one of life's little mysteries, but I'd like to know how you get on that list.  If you get so lucky, these may be one of the easiest cookies ever.  You still have to make the caramel, but it's such a small amount it cooks very quickly.  Then, as Faithy says, work fast because the dough is soft.  And what do you get? A "really crispy" cookie with "caramelized hazelnut flavor."  They might be "even better if coated with melted chocolate."

Katya liked the praline (walnut praline in her case) so much that she used all of it in her cookie dough.  No fool she, it didn't take long for her to realize that something was terribly amiss.  It may have had something to do with the pool of butter leaking from the wet cookie dough.  She knew that walnuts were a bit oilier than hazelnuts, but still!  She then doubled the dry ingredients, but thought that her cookies were probably a little crumblier than they were supposed to be.  If your result is a lacy, crusty cookie, though, there may not be much to complain of.  Look for crumbs from leftover cookies to make their appearance in future bakes.

Vicki used a technique for skinning the hazelnuts that sounds promising:  after boiling them, "pop them in a plastic box with a lid and shake the dickens out of them."  I haven't compared that with not shaking the dickens out of the nuts, but it can't hurt to show them who's boss.  Vicki enjoyed these cookies with a cup of coffee, reminiscing about how her recently departed mother-in-law had introduced her to the joys of java.

Although they actually turned out quite well, the cookies were almost an afterthought for Rachel, who was struggling with a new computer that had no interest in going online.  Maybe she should have tried Vicki's technique of putting it in a box and shaking the dickens out of it.  If it works for hazelnuts, why not for computers?  There may be some faulty logic in that sentence, but it escapes me.  At any rate, despite her computer, which apparently did learn to go online, and with the help of her new individual parchment sheets, she turned out some A-1 cookies.

No one liked the praline more than Patricia, who made a batch with every intention of using it to bake cookies.  But just a taste here, a little nibble there, and soon the hazelnut praline had disappeared.  "No cookie, no matter how tasty, could taste as good as that."

Next week:  American Thanksgiving calls for pumpkin pie and pecan pie, but now you can have them both in one:  Rose's Pumpkin Pecan Pie.  I'll be thankful if no guests say, "What?  You ruined my pumpkin pie with pecans!"  Or vice-versa.  And I hope that all of you find many things to be thankful for, even if you're not celebrating an official day of thanksgiving.

1 comment:

  1. Kristina and her husband are to be commended for such incredible restraint! Great last bake for Gilad to enjoy. Sent my batch down to the hospital my husband is in. He had a line out the door. Some of the patients haven't had a homemade cookie in a very long time.